Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wait, what? Thoughts on Language Development

All kids develop language differently.  Take me, for example--I started talking at nine months and I seriously have not shut up since.  But Bug was a bit slower.

To the tune of at his two year appointment, he had a ten word vocabulary.

Obviously, I knew that all kids are different, and it wasn't that my child was lacking--he could do puzzles, sort items by color, and was amazing at building things with his blocks, but when your child hits two people start making unhelpful comments like, "Oh, he's not speaking yet?  What's wrong with him?  Does he have autism?"

Let me give you a word of advice, folks.  If you ask a parent what is wrong with his or her child, I can guarantee you that that parent will be seriously rethinking the amount of time that is spent with you in the future.

I mean, I admit it, I was starting to get a little freaked out, and my pediatrician suggested speech therapy.  I waited a month after his appointment--and his vocabulary grew to about twenty words--and then I called.

Well, as it turned out, he didn't qualify for speech therapy.  His social skills were too good, and he said too many words at that point.  And then, three months after his birthday, his vocabulary exploded, and he started saying two and three word sentences, and I personally began questioning if I really liked this whole talking thing.  It's one thing to witness your child having a tantrum--it's another to listen to your child say things like, "NO WANT MAMA!"  

So, get this.  Next month he will hit the 2.5 marker.  Since his birthday, he has (a) developed a vocabulary well over 100 words, (b) started speaking in 2, 3, 4 word sentences, and (c) learned his letters, which I didn't even teach him.  In short, he has all of the linguistic skills he needs to be identified as a "normal" three year old.  

Some of these skills have interesting side effects.  For instance, I came downstairs the other day to find him ripping up the newspaper.  "Bug," I said, annoyed, "what are you doing?"

"A!" he proclaimed proudly.  And sure enough, he had ripped out a whole bunch of letter A's from the newspaper, and was making a pile of them.  I love to read the paper with him now because he will sit there and point out letters and numbers to me, and it warms my heart.

I share this with you because there is a lot of pressure on parents these days for your kid to be a certain way.  And the fact is, no two children are alike.  While there's no harm in consulting a specialist, sometimes your kid just does things when he wants to.  Bug's been that way his whole life, and there's no changing him.  Which I wouldn't do anyway, because he's amazing and I love him more than I can say.  But the fact of the matter is, you know your kid best--and trusting your instincts is the best way to parent.

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